NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Nashville area saw a record 14.5 million visitors in 2017, a 4.6 percent increase from 2016’s record 13.9 million visitors, the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp announced today.
The growth is attributed to an uptick in leisure travelers and a stronger-than-expected second half of the year, which included the solar eclipse in August, seven Garth Brooks’ concerts in December and a fall calendar filled with weekend events, festivals and football games.
“Our visitor numbers were surprisingly stronger than the 2 percent to 3 percent growth we had initially forecasted,” said Butch Spyridon, president and CEO of the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp. “Our appeal as a global leisure and meetings destination continues at a high level, and we can’t thank Mayor Megan Barry, along with the hotels, restaurants, attractions and our other hospitality industry partners, enough for their part in the city’s success. When visitors come, they spend money, and that generates economic activity for local businesses and tax revenue for the city.”
In 2017, CVENT ranked Nashville seventh among the Top 50 meeting destinations in the United States, and several travel outlets, including Frommers, named Music City a top place to visit.
Last year, nine new hotel properties opened, including 21c Museum Hotel, Kimpton Aertson, Noelle and Holston House. Also, 113 bars and restaurants opened in the city, along with attractions including the Patsy Cline Museum, Madame Tussauds Nashville and Topgolf.
Other noteworthy demand generators included two international soccer events in July – the Gold Cup and International Champions Cup – along with downtown parties for the Nashville Predators during the NHL playoffs, all on top of the usual slate of large events, including CMA Music Festival, Let Freedom Sing! Music City July 4th and Music City Midnight: New Year’s Eve in Nashville.
This year is showing signs of strong visitation and will likely top the 2017 figure. Already, more than a dozen outlets including Condé Nast Traveler, National Geographic Traveller U.K. and TripAdvisor, have named Nashville a top place to go in 2018. Other factors expected to fuel visitor growth in 2018 include:
• A total of 15 new hotel properties are scheduled to open, a record number for the city (2,800 rooms).
• 107 restaurants and bars have announced they will open, in addition to the eight that already opened since the start of the year.
• British Airways’ nonstop flight to London that begins May 4.
• 17 citywide conventions – which are the largest of conventions – are using three or more hotels and on their biggest nights book more than 1,500 rooms (2017 had 10 such citywide conventions).
• Strong concert schedule, including The Eagles’ two-night stand at Bridgestone Arena in March; Justin Timberlake at Bridgestone on May 9 and U2 on May 26; and Keith Urban at Bridgestone, Def Leppard/Journey at Bridgestone and Taylor Swift at Nissan Stadium the same weekend in August.
• New attractions that have opened or will open including Whiskey Row, Ole Red, Merle Haggard Museum, SoundWaves at Gaylord Opryland, Nashville Shores’ Aqua Park, Pins Mechanical Co. and a new Tennessee State Museum.
Nashville’s strength as a destination continues to be reflected in record growth in the number of hotel rooms sold year over year. As of December, Nashville had seen growth in rooms sold in 82 out of the last 85 months.
The visitor count number includes both overnight and day visitors who have traveled more than 50 miles. The number covers the Nashville MSA.
The Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp
The mission of the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp is to maximize the economic contribution of the convention and tourism industry to the community by developing and marketing Nashville as a premier destination. Visit the NCVC’s website at www.visitmusiccity.com.